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Dresdner Fagottkonzerte aus Schranck II
Johann Gottlieb GRAUN (1703-1771)
Bassoon concerto in F major [12:21]
Antonín REICHENAUER (c.1694-1730)
Bassoon concertos: F major [8:37]; C major [10:31]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Concerto in E flat major for 2 Horns, TWV 52:Es1 [15:48]
Franz HORNECK (c.1690/95-after 1724)
Bassoon concerto in E flat major [12:19]
Erik Reike (bassoon)
Harald Heim and Klaus Gayer (horns)
Dresdner Kapellsolisten/Helmut Branny
rec. January and May 2015, Dresden

When the subject of baroque bassoon concertos is broached, Antonio Vivaldi’s 39 examples - two of which survive in incomplete form - immediately come to mind. Indeed, for much of the second half of the twentieth century, those were pretty much the only such concertos widely known to players and connoisseurs of the bassoon. Thanks to recent musical scholarship, a couple of other works from around the same period have been unearthed, performed and recorded.

The bassoon concertos featured here are from the so-called Schranck II (Cabinet No.2) of the Dresden Court, which acquired the music collection of Johann Georg Pisendel after his death. There are a total of five in the Schranck II collection: one by Graun, three by Antonín Reichenauer and one by Franz Horneck.

The bassoon concerto in F that opens the album is noted as by “Signor Graun” on the manuscript. There were two Graun brothers – Carl Heinrich, who was a singer and mostly an operatic composer, and Johann Gottlieb, who was a violinist and wrote a large number of instrumental pieces as well as vocal music and operas. Coupled with the fact that Johann Gottlieb studied with Pisendel, it is assumed that this bassoon concerto in F was written by him. This concerto is virtuosic and is in the Vivaldian three-movement form. The slow movement is scored for the solo bassoon and bass only.

Antonín Reichenauer, an obscure name until recent years, was a composer in Prague. Though there is no record of him ever having visited Dresden, some of his music, including autographs, is found in Dresden. Two of Reichenauer’s three bassoon concertos from Schranck II are featured on this album. The C major concerto is the more virtuosic of the pair, with demisemiquaver runs in the outer movements. The F major concerto, like the Graun work, has a reduced scoring in the middle movement for solo bassoon and bass only. Both works are highly melodic and of exalted quality.

The most virtuosic bassoon concerto by far on this album is the concerto in E flat by Franz Horneck. His name is actually spelled “Hornicke” on the manuscript. There are plenty of demisemiquaver runs in the fast movement, with many repeated notes which necessitate extremely fast tonguing. The key of E flat would have presented additional difficulty for bassoon players at the time.

The Telemann Concerto in E-flat for two horns is an outlier. It is not from Schranck II, and it does not feature the bassoon. Also doesn’t lack for representation on disc. As a bassoonist, I would much rather that the third bassoon concerto by Reichenauer had been included instead.

All of the performers are drawn from the Staatskapelle Dresden. Bassoonist Erik Reike is a wonderful player, with an attractive tone and solid technique. He handles the technical challenges with aplomb, and adds copious ornamentation to all the movements. The ornamentations are so stylistically appropriate that I didn’t realize they were not from the composers’ pens until I checked the scores. Horn soloists Harald Heim and Klaus Gayer also put in an excellent performance, and the playing of Dresdner Kapellsolisten, on modern instruments, is most stylish.

One minor complaint: the total play time is just under an hour, and the missing bassoon concerto by Reichenauer could easily have been fitted onto this album. Apart from this, the playing of the soloists and the ensemble is top-notch, and the booklet in German and English is excellent. This is a wonderful addition to the catalogue.

Wai Kit Leung



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